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Designer born without hands chooses a life of inspiration

June 5, 2017 at 6:20 PM EDT
When Ryan Hudson-Peralta was born with a congenital limb deficiency, doctors said he would never drive a car, go to a regular school or have a family of his own. Now all grown up, the web designer is an inspiration to his family, friends and colleagues. His son, Noah, produced this report as part of our Student Reporting Labs for our series Limitless.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: This week, we’re going to take a look at a special series about living with disabilities from our network of Student Reporting Labs around the country.

The series, called Limitless, includes more than 30 stories written, filmed and edited entirely by middle and high school students.

Tonight, we learn about Ryan Hudson-Peralta. He’s a web designer in Detroit who was born with congenital limb deficiency.

WATCH MORE: Limitless: Breaking the Bounds of Disability

The video was produced by his son, Noah, and the Student Reporting Lab at Frederick V. Pankow Center High School in Clinton, Michigan.

PATRICK PERALTA, Ryan’s Father: We kind of figured he was here for a purpose.

KIMBERLY PERALTA, Ryan’s Mother: Everyone in the world is going to know his name.

DARRYL BLANDING, Ryan’s Friend: He is different than anybody else.

DAN GILBERT, CEO, Quicken Loans: There’s no better word than inspirational. So he inspires everyone. He inspires me.

TONY NUCKOLLS: Ryan has taught me how to not worry about the past, don’t focus on the future, but enjoy every moment of the present.

RYAN HUDSON-PERALTA, Senior Web Designer, Quicken Loans: My name is Ryan Hudson-Peralta.

I was born with a disability called congenital limb deficiency, which basically is the shortening of the arms and the legs. And, in my case, I was born without hands.

When I was born, the doctors told my parents that I would never drive a car or go to a regular school. They said I would never have a family. So, yes, everyone pretty much doubted me when I was a kid.

KIMBERLY PERALTA: Well, after Ryan was born, the doctors wouldn’t show me him.

And, all of a sudden, they covered up the mirror and told my husband, hey, Mr. Peralta, leave the room. And I didn’t understand why. And I said, where’s my baby? I want to see my baby.

And I kind of went into shock. And they told me something was wrong with his arm, and then something was wrong with his leg.

PATRICK PERALTA: They said, well, we will let you see him in a little bit. I just looked at his face and said, he’s a fighter.

DAN GILBERT: Actually, I think I saw Ryan Hudson-Peralta before I heard about him, so — and I asked somebody. I said, wait, is he working for us? What’s he doing? And I think somebody said, well, he’s a designer.

The first thing you ask yourself is, how does a man who doesn’t have limbs design stuff on a computer? But that’s just really the first question, because then you see everything else he does. And you keep asking, how does he do that, how does he do that, how does he do that?

Sooner or later, you stop asking the question, because he just figures out a way to do it. So, it was truly remarkable to me and very shocking and also inspirational at the same time.

DARRYL BLANDING: Never heard him complain about nothing. And he has to work twice as hard to do daily tasks, like to send a text message or just anything. And he never complains about that at all, nothing.

RYAN HUDSON-PERALTA: As a kid, I started to draw with my pencil between my feet. And then I really realized one day that it was going to be pretty tough when I go into a bank and have to hop up on the counter to sign the — sign the deposit slip.

So, I moved the pencil from my feet to my chin and shoulder and I started to draw that way. In 2013, I started working for Quicken Loans and their family of companies as a Web and Internet user interface designer. And about nine months after working there, I got an e-mail from Dan Gilbert’s team asking me to speak at these events he has every — about every month.

DAN GILBERT: We wanted Ryan to talk about a philosophy and how that plays out through him and his story.

And he does a great job, because, again, for everyone in the audience, it’s probably their first time seeing Ryan. And he’s just so — such a unique individual that every time people see him and see he’s just a regular, normal guy who just gets it done, just, you know, different kind of challenges, I think that inspires everybody in a big, big way.

TONY NUCKOLLS: He is a testament, a living testament to that, with the way that he interacts with people, the way that he approaches work, the way that he builds community around him. He understands the power of relationship and he also understands the power of people.

RYAN HUDSON-PERALTA: Bad things are going to happen to you every day in your life.

And no matter what, if you stay positive, you’re going to get through them. I mean, I could look at every day in my life as something negative. Being born without hands is not the greatest thing that could happen to somebody. But I have a choice every day that I wake up. I can either look at myself as a poor guy with a disability or somebody that can go out and inspire people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what an inspiration Ryan is. Remarkable.

You can see more of these stories from young journalists across the country at studentreportinglabs.org.

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